Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Miami Five

Not a mash-up of Hawaii-5-0 and CSI Miami but the five Cubans held in the United States for nothing more than informing the FBI of plans of terrorist attacks on Cuba.
The five are Gerardo Hernández, Antonio Guerrero, Ramón Labañino, Fernando González and René González.

This is the Miami 5 page from the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.
But instead of arresting the terrorists, the FBI used the information to identify and arrest the Five anti-terrorists on September 12, 1998 in Miami, where they were illegally held in solidarity confinement for 17 months.
A miscarriage of justice

The trial began in November 2000 in Miami, a hugely hostile environment where the anti-Castro Cuban-American community wields enormous political influence.

Defence attorneys’ motions for a change of venue were denied five times by the judge, although it was obvious that a fair trial was impossible in the city.

During the trial, the judge, prosecution and US government officials suppressed defence evidence and ensured key witnesses would not testify.

Despite intimidation of witnesses by the press and testimonies by prominent US officials that the Five had not accessed any classified documents, the jury reached a unanimous guilty verdict on all charges, without once seeking clarification of any evidence.

The Five were convicted on charges ranging from being foreign agents to conspiracy to commit murder, and sentenced to between fifteen years and double life.
For opposing terrorist acts on US soil the Miami Five were prosecuted in a strongly anti-Castro and anti-Cuban government city and given sentences of more than fifteen years with little chance of parole. That evokes mental pictures of justice dispensed by a bouncing kangaroo.

Cuba is not a socialist paradise. Amnesty International in its 2008 Report cited:
Restrictions on freedom of expression, association and movement remained severe. At least 62 prisoners of conscience remained imprisoned and political dissidents, independent journalists and human rights activists continued to be harassed, intimidated and detained.
Many of the dissidents were convicted of "social dangerousness" which is defined as "proclivity to commit a crime". This "crime" carries a sentence of up to four years in prison. Further penalties include “therapeutic treatment”, “re-education” or “surveillance by the Revolutionary National Police”.

All that stands against Cuba as a socialist Eden. Many things are good in Cuba: the increasing use of cooperative farms; the (albeit forced by circumstances) recycling of materials from cars to fridges. As the country moves from a central party dominated culture to trusting its people to act and work independently of the party things will improve.

The lifting of the embargo by the United States government will lessen the control over the economy of the party and government, giving more decisons to be made by the people of Cuba.

Free the Five!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Greenspan and Revolution

A year ago Alan Greenspan was quoted by the FT (on 17th September 2007) as saying that "Profits are much higher than they should be in a world of ever intensifying global competitition". He managed an accounting explanation for this by saying that "workers compensation in the USA and other developed nations is unusually low by historical standards".

An economics explanation was lacking but he did say that real compensation parallels real productivity in the long run, but not now and, here's the killer, if wages for the average worker do not rise quickly "political support for free markets may be undermined".

So even the ex Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve sees that the acts of capitalists threaten the existence of capitalism.

As the man said, "sometimes even the Chairman of the Federal reserve has to stand naked".

[ This is borrowed from Ken Coates's introductory essay the The Spokesman 97, Brown Studies, published earlier this year, see Spokesman Books]

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Miserabilism and Emil Cioran

When international finance capitalism is falling willingly into the hands of governments you know it must be up shit creek without a paddle.

There is a mood of pessimism in the air, and, to quote Gramsci, it's not just "pessimism of the intellect, optimism of the will" pervading the ether.

Once upon a time I had a thing for the writing of EM Cioran. His aphorisms have an almost beautiful streak of pessimism. Witness "Basis of society: anonymous sweat" or "We are afraid of the enormity of the possible".

Unfortunately in the 1930s and 1940s he, like the Daily Mail, admired a chap called Hitler.

Shalom Auslander has been reading a book of Cioran's.
This week Shalom read EM Cioran's The Trouble with Being Born: "Imagine the worst mood you've ever had, and now imagine there's someone for whom that mood would be the best mood they ever had. Now imagine they wrote a book."
That's a good summary but somehow it fails to describe the despairing beauty of Cioran's aphorisms.

Several years ago we were in a pub in the Bloomsbury fringe. Someone came round putting out notices saying that the research notes of a friend's six year study into Cioran had been stolen from a car and asking had anyone seen the notes which were worthless to anyone but the student. There is something beautifully tragic about a study into Cioran ending in despair; but I do hope the student recovered to submit their thesis.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Who Gives to Which Political Organisation

Just found a site that records donations to the United State's political parties.

You can search on names, like Stipe, and find that R.E.M.'s singer donated $2,300 to the Obama for America Political Action Committee.

With patience you may be able to find out something important. It helps if the person you are searching for has an uncommon name. Searching for a name like Moore gives over 300 pages.